The emperor has too many clothes, and Burda 08/2011

Do all sewers have enough clothes, or is it just me? I’m not a speedy seamstress by any stretch of the imagination, but my cupboard is pretty much full. Handmade clothes just don’t wear out! I suppose I’m also less likely to get rid of them, for two reasons. Firstly, I like everything about them, unlike a bought item where I might like the style but not so much the fabric, or vice versa. And secondly, the time investment makes them more valuable than something ready-made. The internet tells me this is the sunk cost fallacy – but the insight doesn’t really help, I still want to hang on to it all.

One solution is to sew for others. There is clearly an increasing amount of this on this blog. I really like doing it. It’s hard to be sure what the recipients really think, but I think it’s appreciated, on the whole. When I was small my grandmother used to knit a lot of jumpers. Often the neck hole was too small, and my mother didn’t want to disappoint her by telling her. Most of the people I sew for are considerably less polite, and I trust that they’ll give me honest feedback!

Anyway, this is a blouse I made for my sister. It’s this one from Burda 08/2011. I used to have a hemp blouse in a similar style, which I wore to pieces, and so I was thrilled to come across this Burda pattern.

Burda blouse 08/2011

The fabric is a fairly heavy crepe, possibly rayon I think. It’s a gorgeous fabric and a stunning colour that always makes me think of my sister, for some reason. It definitely suits her. Another benefit of sewing for others: making things in colours you love but don’t love to wear.

Burda 08/2011

The only modification was to omit the side slits, and shape the hem up at the sides. I do this a lot and don’t know why so many patterns are cut straight across – I think a shaped hem looks a lot nicer.

burda shirt 4 edited

Anyway the main lesson from this pattern was to check the finished measurements – this could easily have gone down one size, maybe two. It’s not just too loose, but too big all over – the back opening looks too long, the sleeves are bracelet length rather than three-quarter, the hem’s probably too long… But it’s definitely wearable, and I suppose it’s better than being too small.

It’s one to make again… maybe even for myself. I would like another blue hemp top like this.


Sewing double, sisters edition – SBCC Mimosa

This is my Indie Pattern Month entry over at The Monthly Stitch. The week 2 challenge is to sew two versions of the same pattern, so I made a blouse for myself and one for my sister.

SBCC Mimosa front joined

It’s a SBCC Mimosa, a pull-over blouse with raglan sleeves and a front tie.

We live in different countries (me in NZ, her in Australia), so we had to get creative with the photos. We had a virtual trip to the park…

Followed by a chat on the corner…

Check out that Wellington hair! It was definitely time to freshen up…

Before a well-earned cup of tea.

Why would 2,325km stand in the way of a good sisterly catch-up?

Now, more details about the pattern:

It’s a lovely one for a voile or light cotton (which I used), and I’m sure it would work well in something drapier too. I made two adjustments: firstly, I changed the sleeve to a two-piece one, with a seam along the shoulder. The original has a dart there, and try as I might I couldn’t get it to sit properly, there was always a bump at the end of the dart. Here’s the seam instead:

Secondly, I shaped the hem up at the sides, so it looks a little nicer untucked.  Some people who have made this have inserted a back facing (there’s already a front one), but I had no trouble using bias tape as directed.

That back neck looks too low, I think it’s because I changed the sleeve. Must fix next time.


  • Pattern: SBCC Mimosa blouse
  • Fabric: Art Gallery fabrics voile (me), Spotlight bargain bin geometric light cotton (her – wish I’d bought more for myself!)
  • Alterations: two-piece sleeve, curved hem
  • Next time: raise back neck
  • More versions: here, here, here, here, here, PatternReview


A very short entry, and a very short poem

Here are two Plaintain t-shirts (free download from Deer & Doe). I reduced the flare at the bottom a little. Also I might have raised the neckline a bit. I made them at a retreat in February, so can’t remember exactly. (The retreat was FABULOUS by the way. 48 hours of sewing and chatter and tea. And jumping into the icy river). The blue stripe was a remnant from Levana – a bit unusual in that the stripes only covered part of the width. blue stripe plantain t-shirt The dogs are from Spotlight, I just couldn’t pass them up. In fact I even went back to buy more, to make one for my friend Ali who is a crazy dog lady. dog plantain t-shirt My favourite one is this little guy, whose head is on the neckband. Screen Shot 2015-05-04 at 7.57.57 pm There’s not much else to say, so as promised:

The truth I do not stretch or shove
When I state that the dog is full of love.
I’ve also found, by actual test,
A wet dog is the lovingest.

– Ogden Nash

Joining the Jenna fan club

Perhaps Kat of Modern Vintage Cupcakes has a time machine of some sort, because she has such a busy life and how else could Muse Patterns exist? I’d really love a time machine too, but instead I’ll settle for her patterns; they’re gorgeous. The Jenna cardi has filled a niche and I hope it’s a huge success. It’s a great pattern and I can’t think of anything like it out there.

There are lots of versions already on the internet and here’s one more:

Muse Jenna cardi

Muse Jenna cardi

I made this in a very fine merino from Levana. I used my high bust measurement as some people had found it too big using their standard measurements. It’s still a little bit wide in the shoulders, maybe because my fabric is quite stretchy. Next time I’ll size down again in the shoulders, grading out to the waist. I lengthened it by 2cm and it’s a good length for me.

Muse Jenna cardi


As in all my knits, I used tape to keep the shoulder seams stable. Also I sewed the button bands on, rather than overlocking them, so the inside is neater.

This involved:

  1. Sewing the flat (unfolded) button band to the front piece, right sides together
  2. Folding the band lengthwise, right side together, and sewing across the ends so they’re level with the top of the neck band and bottom of the waist band
  3. Turning the button band inside out, pinning it carefully so it just overlaps the seam in step 1, then (from the outside) stitching in the ditch along the length of the band.

There are some really nice features in this pattern. The topstitching looks really good, and so do the sleeve bands. Now to make versions 2 and 3!

Presents are the best, featuring Colette Hawthorn

Colette Hawthorn blouse

For my birthday this year, my awesome sisters gave me a Colette Hawthorn pattern and some fabric to make it with. What do you think?

Colette Hawthorn blouse

I’m one of the lucky people for whom this pattern is a perfect fit. When I first looked at the pattern pieces I thought “Just one giant waist dart? That’ll never work” – but somehow it does. And I love the little neck darts at the back that prevent back-neck gape.



  • I made the sleeves a wee bit longer, rather than the cap sleeves in the pattern.
  • I lengthened the front of the collar by 4.5cm on each side, so it ends at the centre rather than halfway up the neck opening.
  • I neatened the edge of the facing by sewing it and the interfacing right-side-together before turning it inside out and then pressing (Sophie-Lee explains this better than me).
  • I hemmed it with bias tape and a blind hem.


  • And I retraced the facings into two pieces, with a seam at the centre back. No particular reason, other than that it saved sewing a few seams.

However, if you change the pattern you’ve got to turn your brain on, and not cut two identical facing pieces! Can you see this? One of them is wrong-side-up (I didn’t have enough fabric to cut another one).


And make sure you sew the facing seams right-side-together! (Luckily this is at the back neck and no-one will see it but me – I might even cover it with a label).


So, minor errors aside, this is a total win. I love it. Best present ever.

Baby love

To finish part 1 of the story…

Here is my sister in another maternity top I made, once again using the (free! awesome!) Turn About The Room pattern. The fabric is from the Queen Victoria markets in Melbourne.

turn about the room top

Here are some pictures of burp cloths for her baby shower (she said “what are these?” but I assume she’s figured it out by now)

I think I used this tutorial. One side is quilting cotton, the other side is flannelette. They’re about 47 x 32 cm (roughly 18 x 13″).


The horses and ducks are the flannelette, in case it’s not clear in the photos.

And finally… the moment we’d all been waiting for… after FORTY TWO weeks, people! (My sister deserves a prize)…


This cutie arrived.

Top of the morning

More sewing double, but too late for the Monthly Stitch April challenge. I blame the end of daylight savings. There have been very few mornings lately with the magic combination of a) light b) no rain c) the Fashion Critic in the right mood to be photographer, and d) the model (me) not running late for work.

I have been wearing this skirt to work nearly every day, and needed some tops to go with it. One of the WSBN ladies (I think it was Wendy) did a big pattern clear-out and I scored this one, Style 4268.

Style 4268

Coincidentally, the week before that I had made a bodice block (my first ever!) using The Costume Technician’s Handbook. This book has a rather wonderful chapter explaining how to draft a bodice, skirt, sleeve, collars, even pants, from scratch. One of the things I love about sewing is that there is so much to it, but you can get as involved as you like. If you just want to make a dress, you can go out and buy a pattern and some fabric, and make a pretty good dress. But if you prefer, you can spend years learning about fit and drafting, couture finishes, and fabric. To the untrained eye, your dress will look much like the first one. But you will know it’s not!

So I used my block to adjust this pattern. The gathering at the yoke made this a bit challenging, but I just increased the width of the front and back pieces while keeping the armhole the same size, and it worked like magic. Since this is a pull-on pattern, I also got rid of the waist darts, which made the fit quite a bit looser.

Style 4268 green front

Hmm. Probably better tucked in.

First I made view 1, with the awesome 80s-school-teacher collar. This was planned as a wearable muslin, using a $5 silk/cotton from the Fabric Warehouse. It’s not my most loved colour, but is a great fabric with a mix of green and yellow filaments giving that ‘shot silk’ look.

Style 4268 green back

The sleeves are the same shape as in the pattern, but I didn’t have enough fabric to make long sleeves, so they’re elbow length. I did initially gather them but decided I prefer them as loose batwing sleeves. Groovy!

Style 4268 green sleeve

Next I made view 2, with the pussy bow (I’ve wanted a pussy-bow blouse for exactly ages).

Style 4268 blue front 3

This fabric is a beautiful viscose that I bought from the Fabric Store on the craft crawl last year. I can’t tell you how much I love this fabric. I love the blue and yellow. I love how it looks faded. I love how soft it feels.

Style 4268 blue front 2


Style 4268 blue bow

The first time I wore it I pulled on a cardigan and riiiiip!

Style 4268 blue rip

The cuff pulled away from the sleeve. The cuff isn’t quite big enough so maybe that’s why it happened. Anyway I’ve been wearing the sleeves rolled up but will have to either fix it or change it to three-quarter sleeves. I had 1.5m of fabric and that was only barely enough, so there’s none left.

One more shot to show you how pretty it is.

Style 4268 blue back 1


I am expecting not one but two little nieces or nephews! So I have been breaking all the rules of selfish sewing by making clothes for my ever-expanding sisters. Good news for me, though – it turns out that you don’t have to be pregnant to enjoy wearing stretchy pants. I made three trips to the Fabric Store for their ultra-fabulous merino/nylon knit. Just 1.2m makes a pair of the comfiest pants in the world, whether you have a Baby on Board or (in my case) just a second helping of ice cream.

Burda 8999

Burda 8999

Burda 8999

Pattern courtesy of Sandra, in the WSBN Christmas pattern swap (to which I contributed exactly nothing, but came away with quite a few goodies). It’s Burda 8999, but I can’t find a link to it anywhere. Thank you Sandra!

Another Christmas swap greedy grab was this very nice black-and-white fabric from Leimomi, which became a top. I underlined the bodice with a cotton jersey, and used Burda 8094 (thanks Nicola!).

Burda 8094

Burda 8094

Burda 8094

I made another version of it using a cotton lawn from Spotlight.

Burda 8094

Burda 8094

Karma got back at me with the next one, though: the day after I bought the fabric the Fabric Warehouse started their 40% off sale. Can’t win ’em all. This is another one I’m planning to copy for myself; I think it would be perfectly good as non-maternity wear also. It is a free online pattern from DIY Maternity.

Turn About the Room dress

Turn About the Room dress

I love this in a stripe. I have been back looking for more stretchy stripes without success – please let me know if you see any good ones. I also changed the direction of the stripe for the neck band, I think it looks better that way. I guess you can only do that if you are using fabric with a four-way stretch.

Also, here’s the February budget round-up:

  • All this loot, as well as some stretchy stripy viscose for boxer shorts (unblogged) – DOESN’T COUNT! Generosity for the win.
  • $5 green silk/cotton remnant for a blouse
  • $5 for shoulder pads and a button for my Bellatrix (it’s still summer and I’m sticking to that excuse)
  • $5 for some more elastic (stash top-up) and a seam ripper – bought from Pete’s Emporium at Porirua, which was a new experience for me

Total: $15 (Remaining: $158. And Fabric-a-brac is really soon!)

Nailed it.

Well, I didn’t nail it exactly, but I did make a wee visit to the tool shed for this outfit.


First, the blouse. I bought this so-called cotton poplin at Spotlight a while back, it is quite light and not my idea of a poplin, but Spotlight is not famous for being pedantic about these things.

I had got it into my head that I wanted a button-back blouse. After lurking on Trademe for months waiting for an appropriate pattern, I realised that I could just add a back placket to any old blouse. (Literally, this thought took months… lateral thinking is not my strong point). The blouse itself took only a couple of hours. It is LOOSELY based on Simplicity 7223.


It’s kind of boxy but I will wear it tucked in. The buttons are some lovely old Woolworths ones that I had in the stash, still on their card. The buttonholes were made with my machine’s buttonhole function. It is embarrassing to admit, but it’s actually the first time I’ve used it – previously I’ve just zig-zagged buttonholes manually. Who knew that knob was there for a reason??


And – the tool shed reference – I used a tiny 12mm chisel to cut the buttonhole openings. One of those clever WSBN ladies mentioned doing this, and it is ever so fun. It also has the added bonus of making a super neat buttonhole opening, with no stretching or ragged threads. My tip, though: don’t do it directly on your cutting mat. Next time I’ll put some newspaper in between. I just Googled it and guess what? You can actually buy buttonhole chisels! Mine was just from Bunnings. Good enough.

The skirt meant another trip to the tool shed for cable ties. It has a high waist and I used a piece of cable-tie in each waistband seam, to stop the waistband rolling down. I used two at the front, and two at the back. I didn’t put them in the side seams as I thought that might be uncomfortable. It worked beautifully and I adore the high waistline.

Image(Scuse the wrinkles, this is after sitting at work all day.)

The pattern is a free download, the Favourite Frills skirt from Your Style Rocks. Friends, you must try this pattern, and I say that as someone who would generally rather go to the dentist than sticky-tape patterns together. It has some lovely details like the paired darts at the back, and is just the right width to be able to walk in without having to add a vent.


Obviously, I didn’t use the outer ‘frills’ layer. I thought about lining it, but didn’t in the end as I wanted to be able to wear it year-round. I initially put in a centred back zip, but undid it and changed to a lapped one instead when this happened:


Gaping can be a problem with a centred zip, but I think it’s a particular hazard when there is a seam midway down the zip. The lapped zip was much better.

The fabric is some kind of very soft synthetic, from a one-euro bargain bin in Madeira, where I had a holiday in 2012. Isn’t it nice to buy fabric on holidays? It’s such a good reminder of the trip. I bought a big piece of fabric, intending to make a skirt and jacket, but I was so frivolous cutting out the skirt (*one euro!* *snip snip!*) that there isn’t quite enough left. Isn’t it awful to buy fabric on holidays? You can’t go and get more.


Anyway I can tell that both of these items are going to get a lot of wear, and that’s a good feeling.

Lazy, wrinkly and biased

These are not the most exciting projects ever, but in the interests of responsible journalism, here are three tops I’ve made in the last month. This first one breaks new ground for low effort sewing. 


I bought the fabric (viscose knit?) at Arthur Toye’s, on the Great Wellington Craft Crawl. I intended to use this tutorial to make an easy-peasy T-shirt, but seriously, mine is even easier. And lazier! I cut the shape I wanted, and overlocked the shoulder seams and the side seams. The end. 5 minutes. 

The next one is 80cm of silk/cotton that cost $5 at Fabric-a-brac, made up into a Sorbetto (without the centre pleat). 


  I like it, but the bust darts are a bit high so this happens now and then: Image

The third one originated at the Fabric Warehouse sale, I think it’s rayon and I know it was $3/metre. I am done with TFW sale, I haven’t liked anything I made up from there (it must have been on sale for a reason). 



Too bright, I feel like a nana. Plus this happened to my bias binding, and I can’t iron it flat, can anyone tell me why? 



In better news, I have just finished my all-time favourite skirt and also have two dresses to show you next time. AND, it’s a long weekend. Happy days.